Doctor Who Experience, Cardiff

I’ve written about the Doctor Who Experience before, but that was back in 2012, and it’s changed a fair bit since then. The Experience is actually closing in September, with no word on what will happen to the contents (most of it is actually owned by private collectors, but hopefully a lot of it will still be able to be seen by the general public). We went along for one last visit to the Doctor Who Experience before it closes in a couple of months.

Doctor Who Experience

The Experience starts with an ‘Adventure’. There is no photography or video allowed in this part of the Experience, to help keep it a surprise for first time visitors, so in respect of that, I’ll keep my review brief. You start being led by a tour guide into the Museum of Gallifrey, but of course, all is not what it seems and you soon find yourself on an adventure with the Doctor. Led by video messages from Capaldi’s Doctor, you search time and space for time crystals, flee from some of Doctor Who’s most iconic monsters, go inside the TARDIS and are eventually dropped off at the beginning of the Exhibition portion of the tour, in 1963. The Adventure part is always excellent; I’ve been through both versions more than once, with both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi themed adventures. It’s perfect for littles, as it’s not too scary, but there’s enough peril to keep adult fans entertained too. The Experience’s staff really throw themselves into it, and I’ve never yet had a bad guide. It’s worth noting too, that if you have someone in the party who’s not a Who superfan, there’s fun to be had for them too. Dave has only ever watched odd episodes of the show, and he enjoyed the Adventure, and found the Exhibition really interesting. It’s also prompted him to go back and starting watching the start of Eccleston’s series, so maybe it’s  way to convert someone into a superfan…

TARDIS

K9

Doctor Who Exhibition

The Exhibition starts in 1963, the year Doctor Who first aired. The first displays are full of bits of set, script notes and office sets from 1960s BBC, and those early episodes. You then progress through the early Doctors, with different versions of the TARDIS exterior, and control panel. I was pleased to find K9 and Bessie, the third Doctor’s car. I’m less familiar with the original Doctors, being largely a fan of the reboot, but it’s lovely to see these iconic pieces.

TARDIS console

Next, you come a huge set piece, of the Tenth Doctors’ TARDIS. Tennant’s last moments as the Doctor play on a loop as you move around the console and see the open TARDIS door, inviting you to run out into the next adventure. This is always my favourite part. David Tennant is my favourite Doctor, so I remember this version of the TARDIS very fondly.

Davros

Davros Doctor Who

Cybermen

Cybermen Doctor Who

Upstairs, you start finding some of those classic monsters again. The Daleks, Davros and Cybermen have reappeared so often throughout Doctor Who, and these bad guys are lined up with examples from every era. It’s really interesting to see the evolution of how these monsters have changed. The Daleks look pretty consistent, but they do seem to have become absolutely enormous in recent years. Davros too, hasn’t changed. Cybermen, however, have changed a lot, from the original version with cloth masks to an extremely shiny 80s looking robot, to the first version in the reboots, which was bulky and muscular. The most recent version, pictured above, has been slimmed down considerably, and to me, looks almost like an Iron Man type armour, with the slimmer fit, and light in the chest.

Weeping Angel

The Silence

Doctor Who monsters

There’s also plenty of modern Doctor Who monsters to terrify you. These displays seem to change about quite a bit, which is really cool. There’s a lot of the classic 60s monsters on display now too, and apparently over this year there’s a lot of work being done to restore a lot of those early monster costumes. This makes me hopeful that there must be plans to do something with these pieces, even after the Experience closes. The items in the Exhibition are largely on loan from private collectors, with the rest coming from the BBC archives.

River Song

Captain Jack Harkness

Rose Tyler

Clara Oswald

Amy Pond

Next, there are currently rows and rows of costumes worn by companions. Apparently I only photographed the modern ones, but there are costume examples from Ace and Sarah Jane too. All the modern companions are here, including Astrid, young Amy Pond and Amy Pond’s kissogram uniform. With my cosplay head on, it’s really great to see these costumes up close and get a look at the details.

Doctor Who

And then of course…the man himself. From the first doctor to the current, these costumes are laid out in a timeline, which gives a very cool insight into how the Doctor has changed over the years. I love the era shown above, where the costumes were truly madcap and colourful. They’re just fun.

The shop, it’s worth saying, is excellent too, and you can access it without going through the Experience if you don’t want to. Both my Sonic Screwdrivers were bought here, and they have some great replicas of iconic costume pieces, which is of course great for cosplayers! Make sure you check it out while it’s still there.

We attended the Doctor Who Experience as a family, and paid in full. All opinions are honest and my own. They didn’t know I was a blogger. 

Yakinori, Birmingham

On Saturday, Dave and I both had super hectic days. I spent my day at a toy shop in Coventry dressed as a Disney Princess (cosplay life!) and Dave was with the Geeky Brummie team, working at a convention. I had booked a cheap deal at Las Iguanas, but we got there and found we’d been seated in the bar area instead of the restaurant next to a shrieking table pf drunk teenagers and what had sounded like a really good deal turned out to be a pitifully small selection of the menu, so we left. Hungry and grumpy, we decided to just head to Grand Central and eat at one of the chainy places. And then I remembered Yakinori.

Yakinori, Birmingham

Yakinori is the sister company to Woktastic, with a focus on traditional noodles and sushi, fusion dishes and bento boxes. I’ve eaten their excellent takeaway bento boxes a couple of times, but I’ve never eaten in the restaurant. The branch in Grand Central is small, with only a few tables, and some counter seating. Despite the fact it was a Saturday, we got a table immediately and were served quickly by a friendly server.

We decided to order sushi, and were presented with a selection of soy sauce, wasabi and a huge tub of pickled ginger to accompany it, and some little dishes to put all these extras in.

Sushi Rolls Birmingham

The Soft Shell Crab Roll (£3) was so full of flavour. The crab meat was rich and tasty, and perfectly offset by the creamy avocado. The Chicken Katsu Roll (£2.50) is so rammed full of chicken it was almost difficult to keep hold of (although maybe that’s me and my chopstick skills). There was plenty of katsu sauce which had somehow avoided making the rice soggy. Again, very tasty.

Sashimi Birmingham

We also ordered the Yakinori Sashimi platter (£14.99), which has salmon, seared coriander and sesame tuna, hokkigai, ama-ebi, seared scallops and octopus. I love sashimi and this beautifully presented. It looked so pretty on the plate. I did find the octopus was absolute rubber and I had to give up on attempting to chew it, but Dave fared much better with the piece he tried, so I may have just been unlucky. The Hokkigai (or ‘surf clam’) was a new one for me. It tasted excellent, but the texture was a little chewy for my taste. Everything else on the plate was beautiful though. It was delicately flavoured and so good. Tuna sashimi is one of my absolute favourites, and the addition of the sesame went perfectly with the strong tuna flavour. The light searing was a nice touch too.

All in all, we were very impressed. The service was fast and friendly, and we could see our server happily explaining the menu to other diners and making suggestions, including for changes to the dishes, so it’s obviously a good pick if you’re new to this kind of food, or have any dietary requirements. It was incredibly good value for money too. For two of us, including soft drinks, we paid just under £25. Bargain. We will definitely be back.

We paid in full at Yakinori. All opinions are honest and my own. Yakinori didn’t know I was a blogger. 

Breakfast Al Desko, from Leon

I don’t understand people who can eat immediately after waking up. I need to have been awake a little while before I want anything except coffee. Because of this, I usually end up breakfast al desko, when I get to work. My office provides bread and fruit, and I keep porridge in my locker. Sometimes though, a little treat is in order.

Leon Al Desko

My commute involve walking through New Street Station, so I am tempted by a variety of cafes on the way. For a payday treat, I decided to pick up a something yummy for my breakfast al desko.

Leon is becoming a firm favourite of mine. Their food makes a nice change from your standard coffee shop chain, and there are of options that are pretty good for you, without compromising on taste.

Leon Coffee

I might be ready to eat, but coffee is still my morning priority. I always order a latte, although I am sad Leon don’t offer any of the coffee syrups. Their coffee is always excellent though, so I can forgive it. Being in the station, the branch I go to is always pretty busy, but I always find the service is quick and friendly. My latte was creamy and delicious, with a good strong taste. Leon pride themselves on using organic, fair trade coffee, and I think that pride shows. It’s also worth noting, if you’re taking the coffee away, that the cups are good and sturdy. Your coffee is still warm when you reach your desk, and they don’t use those good awful flimsy lids some places use. You knows the ones, they’ve split round the lip of the cup as soon as you get out the door so you end up with coffee down your jumper.

Healthy breakfast

I chose the Smoked Salmon and Avovado Egg Pot. With smoked salmon, smashed avocado and a free-range poached egg, with some black pepper, this is a light, nurtritious and delicious breakfast. I will eat anything involving a poached egg, a smashed avocado, or smoked salmon, so this is basically a perfect breakfast for me.

This pot makes a great start to the day with a real protein punch and all those healthy fats in the avocado. The portion isn’t huge, but I find it’s about right for me and the protein stops me from getting snacky halfway through the morning.

If you’re taking it away for a desk feast, you want to be sure it’s not going to leak everywhere. The breakfast pots are sturdy, with a decent lid, so you can get to your desk without a mishap. Despite being a poached egg, I also find these aren’t messy to eat. Everything taste excellent for a fast food option, with good ooze from the egg, plenty of black pepper and well flavoured salmon.

I paid in full at Leon. All opinions are honest and my own. They didn’t know I was a blogger.